Wisdom of Life


History of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Ohio

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Ohio, Inc. was formed in 1993 through a merger between Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lake and Geauga county, which was formed in 1974; and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ashtabula, formed in 1966. The administration office for all three counties is located in Painesville.

Today the agency has 12 staff members and serves over 500 children and youth through traditional match programs, and our growing after-school programs. And, we have more than 350 male and female volunteers engaged as mentors.

The agency is supported primarily through foundation and individual contributions, and three special fund-raising events held throughout the year. In addition, the local county chapters of United Way and the Mental Health and Recovery Boards also provide a portion of our funding. The benefits of mentoring are also endorsed by support Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Services (ODADAS).

The ongoing commitment by community members and local businesses allow us to carry out our mission and implement the programs that provide companionship, friendship and guidance to children so that they can become confident, competent and caring individuals.

The History of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America

Over 100 years ago, one man had an idea that would grow to become the oldest and largest youth mentoring organization in the United States.

Ernest Coulter, a young clerk in New York Children’s Court, saw young boys coming through the courts day after day. Many making repeat appearances. He asked himself why?

What if these young boys had someone they could talk to? Someone to act as a positive role model? Would that change the direction of their lives? Ernest Coulter believed it would.

He took his idea to a group of prominent New York businessmen and during his impassioned speech asked them to become mentors to these boys. Every man present, 40 in all, unanimously stepped forward to become our country’s first Big Brothers.

QUOTE: In part, Coulter said, “There is only one possible way to serve that youngster (who is in trouble) and that is to have some earnest, trueman volunteer to be his big brother, to look after him, help him do right; make the little chap feel that there is at least one human being in this great city who takes a personal interest in him, who cares whether he lives or dies. I call for a volunteer.”

Coulter is considered the official founder of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. He was a welfare activist, journalist, lecturer, author, and advocate who dedicated his energy and resources to bettering the lives of our nation’s children.

Based on Coulter’s unique concept of a one-on-one relationship between an adult volunteer and child who can benefit from the friendship and guidance provided by the volunteer, Big Brothers Big Sisters today is a national force serving over 230,000 youth in 5,000 communities.

For more information, visit the National Big Brothers & Big Sisters Website Here.